By Richard Thomas
The concept of “pot still whiskey” is often misunderstood outside of Ireland, with many thinking it refers to the still itself. Instead, “pot still” is a mashbill style stemming from one of the British crown’s attempts to collect more taxes from the Irish whiskey industry. Reckoning that the best way to collect taxes on whiskey was to tax the raw materials at the point of purchase, Whitehall leveled a tax on malted barley in 1802. Irish distillers responded by creating mashbills that combined malted and unmalted barley. More than anything else, pot still is the true signature style of Irish whiskey.
Writer’s Tears is the creation of Walsh Whiskey, a bottling company, and a blend of the aforementioned pot still whiskey with (what will be to many) the more familiar Irish single malt whiskey. Of course, with a name like “Writer’s Tears,” any self-respecting wordsmith would be drawn to it whatever was in the bottle. The question is whether said scribbler would keep coming back for more.
Bottled at 40% abv and unfiltered, the liquid has a solid, liquid gold appearance in the glass. A whiskey like this one is supposed to ooze of honey, and this one certainly looks the part.
On the nose the whiskey delivers on expectations, with the scent of a pot of farm honey made from bees that collected all their pollen from orange blossoms. The palate builds on that start, tasting of some kind of desert made with slices of green apples sweetened with a ladle of honey and spiced with vanilla. A hint of oak rounds out the flavor. The finish flows out of the sweet, honeyed character, leaving an evenly spread warmth.
Prices vary, but I usually see it listed at between £28 and £32 in the UK and right around €30 on the Continent, unless you are in Ireland itself, where the liquor taxes are a killer.